The Immokalee Foundation receives $125,000 grant

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NAPLES — The Immokalee Foundation has received a generous $125,000 grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation to support the foundation’s Immokalee Readers and Career Pathways programs.

Immokalee Readers is an early intervention literacy tutoring program that utilizes trained, paid high school students from The Immokalee Foundation – many of whom are interested in pursuing careers in Education & Human Services. This in-demand employment sector is part of the foundation’s Career Pathways program, which provides services, educational opportunities, and resources to middle and high school students to help them achieve professional careers of their choosing.

Immokalee Readers targets low-performing student readers in local elementary schools, who gather after school in small groups to work with their high school tutors on reading skills and comprehension. The tutors are paid an hourly wage and supervised by a certified teacher. The program serves hundreds of students at Immokalee’s five elementary schools, as well as at the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County and RCMA Immokalee Community School.

The Career Pathways program offers an expansive curriculum for Immokalee middle and high school students to place them on pathways to well-paying, in-demand careers in Southwest Florida in four employment sectors: Engineering & Construction Management, Education & Human Services, Health Care, and Business Management & Entrepreneurship.

Career Pathways students first learn about career possibilities during middle school via six-week rotations focused on the four industry sectors. Once students choose their desired career path, the foundation’s program team helps plan their high school years to ensure they obtain the needed education, training, and internships to prepare them for postsecondary education and their chosen future jobs.

While working as an Immokalee Readers tutor at Pinecrest Elementary School, Fatima Ruiz-Reyes has received firsthand experience in her desired future profession. “I chose the Education and Human Services pathway, because I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” said the senior at Immokalee High School. “The pathway is helping me get to where I want to be. I am grateful that The Immokalee Foundation opens doors for me and is guiding me on my career path.”

Eduardo Diego-Marroquin originally became a tutor with Immokalee Readers because he wanted a part-time job. He then joined the Career Pathways program and soon realized how his involvement with The Immokalee Foundation would significantly impact his life. “At first, I didn’t know what career I was going to pursue,” said Diego-Marroquin, an Immokalee High School senior. “When I heard about the different Career Pathways, I decided it was an opportunity to explore future possibilities. As soon as I joined the Engineering and Construction Management pathway, I knew this is what I wanted to do, and I am now determined to become a construction manager.”

The Immokalee Foundation serves more than 1,400 students a year, offering educational programming to help students of all ages succeed in school and prepare for their futures. The impacts of the efforts are often life-changing.

“The Immokalee Foundation is devoted to improving the lives of Immokalee’s children through programs that provide students with opportunities to grow, learn and advance to educational and professional heights they never dreamed possible,” said Noemi Y. Perez, president and CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “These pathways lead to economic independence for our students, which helps break the intergenerational cycle of poverty here in Immokalee. We are grateful to the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation for its ongoing, vital support of our efforts to change students’ futures.”

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation was created in 2004 by Best Buy founder Dick Schulze to give back to the communities where he and his family grew up – in Minnesota, where he built Best Buy to become the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer, and in Florida, where he now maintains a permanent residence. The foundation supports organizations operating in the areas of human and social services; education, including college and early learning scholarship awards; and health and medicine. For more information, visit www.schulzefamilyfoundation.org.

The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to professional careers through support, mentoring and tutoring, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about supporting The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways Learning Lab, becoming a mentor, its signature events, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit https://immokaleefoundation.org.

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